People with high and complex needs will generally need an array of supports to enable social and economic participation as envisaged by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). As participants, these people will receive funding from the NDIS to purchase services and supports from a range of different disability sector providers, but will also need to access various 'mainstream’ services including health, education, housing, justice and transport in order to pursue the life they choose. The complexity of the services system, and the interfaces between sectors, create gaps and barriers that are challenging for participants, service providers and for policy makers alike to navigate.
Cross-sector coordination is a critical scheme design element to ensure that NDIS participants get the range of services and supports they need to pursue their goals and participate in society and the economy. Any failure of other sectors to provide access to quality services will increase the costs of disability support and risk the sustainability of the NDIS. Coordination can thus also be seen as a way of addressing this fundamental risk facing the NDIS. For these reasons cross-sector coordination should be a core element in NDIS design. The disability field is actively discussing these challenges and this paper aims to provide evidence to inform policy directions now being developed.